The 21st century brings a unique and unprecedented set of challenges and potential opportunities for organizations.
The competitive landscape is increasingly global in scope. Today, even small or midsize companies are challenged to compete on a global scale. The number of multinational corporations has doubled since 1990.1 Growth opportunities are more prevalent in developing regions of the world where the middle class and new consumers are emerging rapidly. In fact, the global middle class is expected to grow by 172 percent from 2010 to 2030.2 At the same time, there are shifts in the available talent pool and workforce demographic. An aging demographic in the West is yielding to higher proportions of college graduates coming from Latin America, Russia, and Asia. Individuals are being asked to do more with less, but they also have higher expectations for their employers and are more mobile than previous generations. Consumers also have higher expectations, and the companies that make the best use of technology and data analytics to better understand their customers and break down barriers will win.3,4
The pace of market growth, the speed of innovation, and ever-changing demographics create more opportunities to both create and extract value, but it's often more difficult to pinpoint those opportunities and act upon them.
So, how do companies compete in this increasingly complex and changing environment? One of the central differentiators for companies is a sound business strategy. Leaders who are adept at creating winning strategies make an integrated set of choices regarding issues such as where the business will be active, how to get there, how to win, the specific actions and moves, and the model of profit generation.5 A business strategy articulates the direction a business will pursue and the steps it will take to achieve its goals. A good strategy has at least three characteristics: it creates value, it's unique, and it cannot be imitated.6
About This Report
Aligning business and talent strategies requires some careful analysis. Because everything exists as a nested part of a larger context, it's important to get a broad perspective of the business landscape. Understanding external business issues such as 21st century trends, economic realities, and industry context can provide a useful backdrop for the business strategy. The next step is to gain an understanding of the strategic intent for the organization. Given the increased size and complexity of companies today, one might find multiple and possibly competing business strategies when surveying the enterprise.
From the business strategy, it's important to understand what the organization needs to excel at in order to deliver on the strategy. From there, it is helpful to determine what talent is needed to shape, advance, and execute the strategy successfully. Taking into consideration what talent is required versus what talent is available, what the pivotal roles are, and an analysis of where talent could be a constraint on the business, the final steps involve creating an aligned talent strategy and designing practices for managing that talent.
It's important to keep in mind that there are no right answers. Best practices in talent strategy are dependent on the context of the business. For any organization, what works best is contingent upon the situation and the strategy. For this reason, the strategic alignment process is a process of discovery that is unique for every organization.
The Korn/Ferry Institute generates forwardthinking research and viewpoints that illuminate how talent advances business strategy. Since its founding in 2008, the institute has published scores of articles, studies, and books that explore global best practices in organizational leadership and human capital development.
Korn Ferry is a premier global provider of talent management solutions, with a presence throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The firm delivers solutions and resources that help clients cultivate greatness through the design, building and attraction of their talent